Laboratory for Analysis of Strategic Element Resources (LASER)

    Equipment/facility: Facility

    • Location

      University Park, PA 16802

      United States

    Description

    The Laboratory for Analysis of Strategic Element Resources (LASER) is a world-class research and analytical laboratory that was created to support research focused on identification of mineral deposits that can ultimately produce strategic and critical elements for the sustainable economy. These elements are used in current and emerging applications in superalloys, electronics, and the defense sector, and include rare earth elements (REEs).

    Penn State has decades of institutional experience in all aspects of mineral characterization and production, including the current search for economic sources of rare earths in coal byproducts. LASER offers a wide range of research and analytical capabilities.
    Research Capabilities:

    Sample preparation techniques such as crushing and grinding of minerals to determine mineral liberation characteristics​
    Mineral processing including float and sink testing, flotation, and magnetic and electrostatic separations
    Laboratory hydrometallurgy equipment to examine the effect of process conditions and reagents on mineral leaching behavior
    Fixed bed, fluid bed, and entrained flow reactors to study calcination, roasting, and other operations with various reactor configurations, particle sizes, and gaseous environments
    Thermogravimetric analysis to measure continuous mass loss/gain to determine phase transitions, and reaction kinetics under both oxidizing and reducing environment up to 1100 C and 40 bar pressure
    Analytical Capabilties:

    , coal, coaDigestion and lithium metaborate fusion
    Mineral characterization techniques including X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) for the analysis of crystalline phases; Scanning Electron Microscopy-Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) to characterize physical associations of minerals and REEs and their grain sizes; X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) used for rapid screening.
    Elemental state-of-the-art instruments including Inductively Coupled Plasma - Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) and Inductively Coupled Plasma - Aromic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES).
    Sample Matrices

    Mineral ores (rocks), coal, coal ash, and wastes from mineral processing and pyrometallurgy
    Custom sample preparation from run of mine to ultrafine particles for subsequent analysis

    Fingerprint

    coal
    mineral
    resource
    sample preparation
    rare earth element
    plasma
    mineral processing
    reaction kinetics
    mineral deposit
    crushing
    lithium
    grinding
    phase transition
    X-ray fluorescence
    X-ray spectroscopy
    ash
    grain size
    mass spectrometry
    scanning electron microscopy
    spectroscopy